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Maybe in one of the many flights you have taken you have not noticed when a lightning bolt passes through the airplane you are on board. Did you know that this is due to an incredible theory? We tell you
What happens when lightning strikes an airplane?
When lightning strikes an airplane, nobody knows. According to the data, every thousand hours of flight, lightning strikes a plane without anyone knowing that it has happened.
Passengers are not aware of the incident because airplanes follow the Faraday cage principle.
The Faraday cage principle
Faraday was a British physicist and chemist who specialized in electromagnetism and electrochemistry. According to his theory, the electromagnetic field inside a conductor is zero, so the effect of external fields cancels out.
For example, a person inside a metal cage, when receiving an electric shock, the electrons will remain in the external structure without impacting the interior.
How does lightning affect an aircraft?
The aircraft cabin, the hold and the fuel tanks comply with the Faraday cage principle.
Therefore, in the event of a lightning strike, the lightning would travel along the external surface. Passengers would not perceive anything, at most they would see a light, like a flash.
However, the aircraft has static fuses (the antennas located at the ends of the wings) that cause the lightning to dissipate along a conduction path.
In this way, the electricity flows around the outside of the aircraft and is extinguished in the static dischargers.
Consequences of impact
There is one area where problems can occur: the nose of the aircraft, specifically the radar and navigation systems.
If any of these are affected, pilots will have to make an emergency landing to repair them, although aircraft are equipped with devices to protect both radar and other elements.
Despite being something apparently dangerous, there are other threats such as turbulence or wind that have a greater risk.